Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cupcake Purses

One little.......

Two little.........

Three little cupcakes........

My niece, Madelyn is turning one! She is having a "cupcake" birthday party on Valentine's Day and I made these adorable cupcake purses as party favors for the big celebration!

I found the pattern from Quiltsillustrated. The pattern is easy to understand and is relatively quick to sew. What little girl wouldn't want one of these? I loved every minute of making these....from picking out the fabrics to seeing the finished project come together. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to make these for my niece and her party guests.


What do you do with 12 1/2 inches of snow and three "snow days" home from school? The kids worked hard making a beagloo - an igloo for the beagle (and for them too). However, the beagle was less than enthusiastic about going in his newly created home. It took a little coaxing and a leftover peanut butter sandwich.





Friday, January 23, 2009

DC Madness

On Sunday I packed up my family and headed out to DC to witness the Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama. On the way to DC we made a slight detour and picked up our friends, Amy and Grayson in Cincinnati. Amy was attending a conference there and wasn't able to leave until late Sunday night. Our original plan was to spend Sunday night in Cincinnati and head to DC Monday morning. However, a few days before leaving, Amy found out that she received tickets to the swearing-in ceremony and that they needed to be picked up in our Congressman's office before 1pm on Monday. So in order to pick up our tickets before 1pm we decided to head to DC on Sunday night.

It seemed like a reasonable plan, but that was before knowing that I would be driving in the middle of the night, through a snow storm - a hundred miles of bad weather. The drive on I 68, through the Allegheny Mountains proved to be a tricky one. The interstate was covered in wet slippery snow and I was only able to go about 40 mph. But as we neared DC the weather let up and we made it to our destination by 3:30am, exhausted but happy to be there. Through the generosity of one of my friends, we were able to stay at her in-laws house in Alexandria, only two Metro stops away from downtown DC and the mall.

After a short night's sleep we packed up the kids and headed down to the Metro to begin the first of our adventures. We made it to our Congressman's building by noon but when we arrived we were shocked by what we saw. Lines, that wrapped around the office buildings, of people also waiting to pick up their tickets. In order to keep people from scalping them, tickets were only being distributing on Monday, and this caused huge lines at all of the Senate and Congressional office buildings on Capitol Hill.

Here we are standing in line for our tickets.

Keith was a great sport and decided to take the 3 boys over to the Air and Space Museum while Amy and I waited in line. We waited for about 2 and half hours before we made it through security and into the building. The time passed quickly as we chatted with our fellow line mates. Everyone had a story to tell, and seemed to be happy and upbeat. No one complained about the cold or the long wait, people were genuinely thrilled to be there, and that seemed to be the case everywhere we went. There was a true spirit that could be felt all around the city, not only with the inaugural attendees but also with the Metro workers, the volunteers and just about everyone we encountered.

Once inside the Raymond building we found out that our Congressman was no longer handing out tickets from that office and we had to go to yet another building. The staffers were very helpful and friendly and pointed us in the right direction. Thankfully we didn't have to stand in line again and could take the underground tunnels instead. Once inside our Congressman's office Amy and I enjoyed a reception, and hung out there just long enough to score another ticket to the swearing-in ceremony.
Later that evening we met up with Keith and boys on the mall. We decided to show the kids a close up view of the Capitol grounds and where the swearing-in would take place.

Here the kids are standing in front of the wheelchair ramp and behind that is the 28,000 chairs that were set up for some of the VIPs. To the right of the chairs was my ticketed area, the Blue Section, to the left of the chairs was the infamous Purple Section otherwise known as the Purple Tunnel of Doom. After finding our way around the mall and getting our bearings for the next day we headed back to Alexandria for dinner and to get a good night's sleep.

The next morning we woke the kids up early and made our way back to the Metro by 7am. All was going well when we arrived and there was plenty of parking at the station. And surprisingly enough we got on the first train, even though it was pretty packed. However, our usual 10 minute metro ride to the mall took 45 minutes as the trained stopped off and on to accommodate the huge crowds of people that were filling up at our exit station.

Once we finally exited the train we waited in crunch crowds for about an hour, before we were able to get to the street level. On a normal day it would take about 2 minutes to walk off the train, and take the escalator up to the street. But as we waited to squeeze hundreds of people up one escalator and out onto the street, more and more trains were dropping off people which made it even more crowded.
This was one of the scariest parts for me and I think for Mac too as he was starting to get a little panicked near the end of our wait. It was hard for the kids because as we were all squished among strangers, we (the tall people) could see an ending to the madness, the kids on the other hand couldn't see a thing except for the bodies that were surrounding them. And the amazing part was, that once again spirits were high, everyone was kind and watched out for the children, making sure they wouldn't get separated from their parents. Randomly people would break out into song, or shout, "Yes We Can." This seemed to help all of us get through what could have been an even more difficult time.

Once we made it out of the Metro tunnel, we decided on a meeting point for after the ceremonies. This was the second most scariest part to me, separating from my family. Since we only had four tickets and there were 6 of us, we decided to spilt up. I took a single ticket in the Blue Section that was on the Capitol grounds, Amy, Mac and Grayson were ticketed in the Silver Section just behind the reflecting pool, and Keith and Ethan were on their own. See a map here.

I was worried about leaving my family on the slight chance that something serious could happen, like a stampede, or security breach. I knew that I would be worried about my family's whereabouts in those types of circumstances. I also worried how difficult it would be to meet up again, knowing that there would be mass crowds exciting the mall, and no cell phone service. I was relieved at the end when we all arrived at our meeting spot within 10 minutes of each other.

We had three different experiences, but at the same time had three of the same experiences because no matter where we were located, we were all able to watch on a jumbotron. Amy and the kids made it through security and to their spot by 9:30, Keith and Ethan were further back on the mall with plenty of elbow room but it also took them a good hour and a half to get to the mall area. Below are pictures of the crowds that Keith and Ethan encountered getting to their spot on the Mall.

It took me the longest time to get to my area. I arrived at my spot by 11am and stood in crunch crowds once again. The positive side of the crowded Blue Section was that all the bodies kept me warm. Not only did I have a good view on the jumbotron I could also see the platform from where I was standing.

Keith had the camera with him and this is the view that he saw from his vantage point.
I like the picture below because it shows Obama on the jumbtrons that were located up and down the mall area.
After the ceremony we headed to Amy's friend's house on Capitol Hill were we watched the parade on TV and our hosts graciously served us dinner. We were all grateful to have a place to hang out while the Metro crowds died down.

Would I do it all over again? In a heart beat! It was the most amazing experience, despite all the difficulties. It was worth every minute of driving through the snow storm, the crowds, the lines and long waits. It was a very emotional three days for me, one in which I'll never forget.

To read more about our experience from Amy's point of view click here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sweater Mittens

I made these mittens from old wool sweaters that I felted. I got the idea from a friend of my mom's who showed me a homemade pair that she received from her daughter.

You can make sweater mittens from any type of sweater but I chose felted wool for two reasons. One, it's easier to work with because once the wool is felted, it doesn't fray which makes sewing a breeze. Two, wool is a great insulator on those cold winter days.

I wanted the mittens to have a lining because wool can be very irritating to your skin. So I lined each mitten with fleece which adds an extra layer of warmth and coziness. For the pattern, I traced around my hand on graph paper, and then cut out a front and back for each mitten out of the sweater and fleece lining.

I also reused the sweater cuffs for mitten cuffs. I cut about a 4 inch piece off of the sweater cuff and sewed it together with the mitten and the lining. I finished each mitten off with a pretty button.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Winter WonderFUL Land

We were very fortunate to bring in the New Year with family in Wisconsin. We met my parents, sister, brother-in-law and niece in Mishicot during winter break. It was like a mini family reunion as we were able to spend time with aunts and uncles on both my mom and dad's side of the family.

The first thing we did when we arrived was put the kids to work building this 20 foot tall snowman. Just kidding! Okay, so we didn't really build Frosty, but we couldn't help but to stop and take pictures of him. We found him in Mishicot, at the edge of someone's yard. He's amazing and very cleverly built. It's hard to see all the details in picture but his buttons are made out of black plastic greenhouse pots, his eyes are plastic cups, his nose a funnel, and his hat is a big 10 gallon pail.

Keith took the kids sledding every day, and when they weren't sledding they were swimming in the resort's pool. I took the picture below because it showed a funny contrast of swimming when it's 11 degrees outside. Mac is in his swimsuit at the pool, looking out the window surrounded by snow. If you look close enough you can also see the snow and the water being reflected in the window.

The week we spent in Wisconsin was a nice balance between recreation and relaxation. While the boys were recreating, I was relaxing. We also enjoyed spending time with family while there. It was great seeing my immediate family but also wonderful spending time with my aunts and uncles too. Being at my aunt and uncle's house brought back so many childhood memories. Lots of stories were told and my sister and I reminisced about our childhood spent in Wisconsin.

My dad was able to surprise his brother and sister with his visit, and my mom surprised her sister. The above picture is my Aunt Linda, my mom's sister, and my Aunt Mary who is married to my dad's brother.

Most of our entrainment came from my 10 month old niece, who is an absolute joy to be around. She is at the walking/crawling stage. She's gotten to be a pro at walking but is more comfortable crawling. Right before she walks over to you, she does a little dance and toddles on over. She is so adorable, and is quite smitten with her cousins. She alone was worth the 8 hour drive up north!